Bozeman Police enact new policies after escape


BOZEMAN, Mont. - NBC Montana is learning new details about the February escape of an attempted rape and assault suspect from the Bozeman Law and Justice Center.

Records show Kevin Briggs was the fourth individual to walk out of the Law and Justice center in the past 10 years.

Briggs was arrested on February 1, but police left him alone in an unlocked interview room. He fled, and stayed on the run for nearly three weeks, before being captured in Portland, Oregon.

Now, newly released documents show another suspect walked out in October 2004. And two juveniles escaped -- one in 2008 and one in 2011.

After the Briggs escape the police department did an internal review of its policies and procedures, and identified potential areas for improvement.

After the arrest, the night shift officer handed Briggs off to an officer on the next shift. The report found that day shift officer improperly cleared himself from watching Briggs.

Thursday, deputy chief Rich McLane showed NBC Montana two things police have done since Briggs' escape to secure the interview area. To create a better chain of custody, the department now requires forms with signatures anytime a suspect is transferred to another officer. Police also added a new work station near the interview rooms, so officers can keep an eye on the people inside.

Deputy Chief McClane told us, "It just never rose up to an in your face mode to say 'change this'. Some of this the chief just became aware of because of this review. Some of these things I became aware of through this review. This was a wake up call for us."

Moving forward, McLane tells us the new observation room and existing interview room doors, will be modified with windows.

Then, officials will work with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department on how to best handle high-risk suspects like Briggs.

The Bozeman Police Department has also asked the County Attorney's office to review whether locks are legal on interview room doors or whether detainees can be locked to rails.

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